Lessons Of A Lifetime

Wrestling In Prayer
Watch And Pray
Sunday April 23, 2023

Scripture To Consider:
“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: “I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.’

“Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And so said all His disciples.”

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’ He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’

“Then He came to His disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.’

“And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.’” Matthew 26.30-46

Something To Consider
Jesus, looking forward to the atonement He was to provide for the world, saw in the distance far beyond the cross. And though He knew His disciples would abandon Him for fear, He could not abandon them. Nor did Jesus rebuke them for their spiritual weakness. Instead, He would continue to desire their company right up to the point of His arrest.

What does that knowledge do for us as it pertains to our loyalty to Jesus and our willingness to endure to the end? Are we strengthened in our resolve to desire to live godly lives even though the fruit of our living lives of holiness is persecution? The disciples may have fled from the scene of His arrest, but in time they returned in the power of God’s Holy Spirit!

Jesus realized all too well what was at stake that night in the garden of Gethsemane. He knew His human but divine response to His facing the cruelty of the cross would cause future believers to be found wrestling in prayer with similar difficult issues in their own lives. Will we be found strong in the spirit or weak in our flesh?

Something Else To Consider:
Peter’s weakness would prove to be his thinking himself to be strong. Paul later proclaimed in Romans 12.10, spiritually speaking; “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Our understanding our spiritual weakness and our total dependence on Jesus and God’s Holy Spirit, produces a spiritual strength that the flesh can never produce or maintain.

Only as we depend on Christ’s strength in us are we then truly strong. Nehemiah reminds us in Nehemiah 8.10, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” Therefore, we must not allow our flesh or the world to rob us of our joy! David wrote in Psalm 35.9, “And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; it shall rejoice in His salvation.”

Are our souls rejoicing in God’s salvation? Jesus declared in John 15.11, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Are we filled with the joy of the Lord? I must admit, no, not always! There are times when the weight of the world is indeed heavy. But Jesus instructed, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Something More To Consider:
Jesus wrestled that night in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane like few others have ever wrestled in prayer. Luke reported, “And being in agony, He [Jesus] prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

There in the anguish of the garden Jesus overcame the pain of the coming cross. There in the garden He drank the bitter cup of obedience for us. There in the garden Jesus wrestled in prayer but He remained watchful and prayerful. Can the same be said of us in our time of trouble and opportunities of becoming weak in our flesh that we become strong in spirit?

As we approach the end of this age, will we be willing to wrestle in prayer, while watching and praying for the return of Jesus Christ? Will we remove our cloak of joyfulness the moment the flame of the fiery finale is felt? For the joy of the Lord is our strength!

A Few Final Words:
Sometimes in knowing the biblical end of things according to the truth of the Word of God, and knowing the severity of the end times, I wrongfully remove the garments of praise and joy for whatever reason. God forgive me!

But as I willingly abide in Christ and allow His Word to abide in me, I realize my shortcomings and as I become weak in my flesh, through prayer and God’s Holy Spirit, I then become strong in spirit and seek God’s forgiveness. It is the wise thing to do!

Therefore, kneeling before God in watchful prayer enables a person to stand before their enemies in complete confidence and added assurance of the nearby presence of an Almighty God.

And according to Jesus, our Redeemer and actual essence of all joy; “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Our Father in heaven, thank You for Your warning to us to watch and pray. May we as true believers be moved by Your Holy Spirit and by the words of warning of Jesus, to spend more time on our knees. In Him Always, Amen!

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